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  4. Gandhi and Architecture: A Time for Low-Cost Housing

Dandekar, Deepra

Gandhi and Architecture: A Time for Low-Cost Housing

In: (Ed.)
Nidan: International Journal for Indian Studies
vol 7, no.1

University of Kwa Zulu-Natal, 2022

DOI: https://doi.org/10.36886/nidan.2022.7.1.9

Most of us, who have grown up in India, in the last decades of the 20th century, have known of a Gandhi, who primarily dwelt in the realm of ideas, especially political ideas of Satyagraha that were pivotal to the Indian nationalist struggle. Though Gandhi is sharply criticized from an Ambedkarite standpoint (cf. Roy 2014: 17-179 for a detailed outline of the Gandhi-Ambedkar debate), this critique is nevertheless, still intellectual. Venugopal Maddipati, an architect and historian, a brilliant young scholar of tremendous erudition, has initiated a new, cutting-edge project in this book Gandhi and Architecture that reveals to readers a Gandhi, who is reflected and refracted through ideas about home-building and architecture. The book describes how Gandhi-refracted becomes extended to the agenda of nation-making, that is conflated with low-cost home-building for the poor – an adaptation central to postcolonial citizenship-making. All those, hitherto organized in separate communities, considered outside the boundary of reformed Hindu citizenship in 1948 (when Gandhi died), used Gandhi’s architecture, as Maddipati shows, when applying his model to their own journey of self-forming as home-building citizens and national-inhabitants. A man is certainly known by the house he builds and keeps in this context, and Maddipati’s book goes a step further in demonstrating how even national policies may emulate a man’s home, and through it, his personal and religious ideas to reproduce and regenerate a timeless model of a nation – transforming the home-builder into a nation-builder. This domain of metaphor merged with action provides citizens with moral and religious safety, while physically transforming private space into a static and public, nationalist domain that draws on the model of a timeless past. This process, in turn, transforms inhabitants into a special kind of citizen, embodying a timeless history that consolidates their modern/ regional/ linguistic identity.